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We Sell, Finish, and Install a few hundred doors each year. Real wood doors are beautiful, but they are the hardest to maintain. They also have short warranties. We have solid wood doors available, however most people today are buying lifetime warrantied fiberglass and composite doors that looks so much like wood that most people can't tell a difference. If you have a covered porch you might be ok with a good wood door, but those are hard to find. If you do go all wood, be sure that the door is a laminated veneer solid core door with a 1/4" skin. The LVL will not twist and warp as bad as a solid wood door. I have 16 year old Thermatru Fiberglass doors in my home and they are in just as good a shape now as when I Installed them. Go to www.thermatru.com to learn more about these.
If you are going for a patio door, I would suggest Andersen, with a composite exterior and several species of real wood options on the interior. This would be in their A-Series. for more info on these: http://www.andersenwindows.com/products/a-series-hinged-patio-door/ If you are in Kansas City, call us for a free consultation 913-262-4380
All-Weather Window, Doors and Siding, Inc.
I live in northern Mass along the coast and deal with this all the time. It really is a question of your commitment to maintenance. Wood today is not like wood 20 years ago or older and lead removed from finishes has change how they perform too. Other suggest the fiberglass or metal option for those reasons.
But if your set on wood then opt for the Fir Door. And it sounds like you're looking at an authentic divide light door but still go for insulated glass don't make the mistake of not using the best glass you can afford
Make sure that it is finished before it is installed and that the coating whether paint or varnish is cut into seal onto the glass at all edges. Many coats are better than one, but it has to be applied with attention to detail. And be prepared to recoat regularly even if it doesn't seem to need it and you'll be fine
As for the laminated door suggested it has merit too, but make sure that both the top and bottom of the door are seal also when finishing and they will need to be regularly too.
As beautiful as wood doors can be, they are constant maintenance. They will always have the potential to crack. Now, being that you will have some protection, it will help. If your house is a period style home with wood windows and doors now, then it makes sense to stick with that type of door. If not, normally I would recommend a ThermaTru wood grained fiberglass door unit or possibly a Marvin clad door with a wood interior. Keep in mind that the more divided lites you have in the door, the busier it looks. We have done doors for customers that are 6, 8, and 10 lite that will leave you with a great look, and not take away from the view to the outside. Good Luck!
M.K. Brummel, Inc. Fine Remodeling and Building
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